What is Benzoic Acid?


Ooooh, good 'ol C7H6O2... It's the reason champagne makes it hard for me to breathe and puts me in so much pain that I'm reduced to tears. I used to love me some bubbly!

So, what is benzoic acid, you ask?

It's an inexpensive, colorless crystalline solid as well as a simple carboxylic acid, and was discovered in the sixteenth century.

The salts and esters of benzoic acid are known as benzoates, which I find interesting since I'm allergic to sodium benzoate! These two seem to be found in a lot of the same places as well.

Benzoic acid can be found naturally in plants and animals and can also be produced by the process of partial oxidation of toluene with oxygen. What I also find interesting is that this process is activated by cobalt ormanganese naphthenates... I'm also allergic to cobalt!

Benzoic acid's main uses are as preservative and antifungal substances. It's also used in ointments to cure ringworm, athlete's foot and tinea.

While benzoic acid is seen as relatively non toxic, it does have some side effects such as irritation of the skin and eyes, asthma, and inflammation of the stomach lining.

Testing has been done and as far as the tests for toxicity to humans, fetuses and animals... those were a negative. The same goes for any carcinogenic qualities.

Now... where can you find benzoic acid? Here are some sources:

  • it's used as a plasticizer (to make things more bendable so they don't break)
  • preservative
  • tobacco seasoner
  • perfume
  • champagne
  • sparkling drinks
  • fruit juice
  • pickles
  • bbq sauce
  • salad dressing
  • soda
  • face wash
  • face cream
  • mouthwash
  • deodorant
  • body wash
  • toothpaste
  • after shave
  • sunscreen
  • berries
  • beer
  • chewing gum
  • candy
  • ice cream
  • jam
  • jellies
  • maraschino cherries
  • margarine
  • processed cheese
  • processed meat
  • artificial flavors
  • fragrances
  • and it's also released into the air when burning wood in a fire place (bummer, I love fires!)

SO, to sum it up... it can be an irritant, but supposedly won't kill you (unless maybe you're allergic to it), it's been around for a long time, can be found naturally and produced commercially, and it's in a LOT of stuff.

Have YOU had any problems with benzoic acid or do you have any more sources to add to the bulleted list?